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Alexander Cockburn
Alexander Cockburn
13 Jul 2012
The End of America's Armies

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6 Jul 2012
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29 Jun 2012
The Affordable Care Act: Decision Effects

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Over the Top With Rick Santorum

Comment

Surely Rick Santorum is the most fanatical Christian to run for the Republican nomination in the modern era, maybe any era. Next to him, Pat Robertson, billionaire founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, who ran for the nomination in 1988, has the tolerant, glassy-eyed bonhomie of Dean Martin. Robertson has always been in show business. Four years ago, we had Mike Huckabee, the evangelist, former governor of Arkansas and one of the boys, shacked up with Mrs. Huckabee in his doublewide on the grounds of the Arkansas gubernatorial mansion. He has always been in show business, too. ?

But with Santorum — a conservative Roman Catholic and member of Opus Dei — there's a truly manic edge to his religious pronouncements and activities.

Santorum doesn't believe in the right to privacy. Not that Obama doesn't have qualms about taps on your phone and powers of arbitrary arrest, but he probably doesn't care too much about whatever human combos are being tried out in the bedroom. Santorum frets 24/7 about beastliness and unnatural acts, and he yearns to restore full rights to snoops to kick down the motel door, twitch aside the blankets and haul couples off for all manner of moral abominations. ? ?

Contraception in Santorum's opinion is "a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." Prenatal testing is also a no-no for Santorum, father of eight. In 2003, Santorum said he favored having laws against polygamy, adultery, sodomy and other actions "antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family." The possibility of bestiality in today's licentious times bothers him a lot — "man on dog," as he famously put it on a talk show. Not even in cases of rape does he consider the possibility of abortion: "I believe and I think that the right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, but nevertheless, in a very broken way, a gift of human life, and accept what God is giving to you."? ?

Santorum was two when the '60s began. But like so many cultural conservatives, he believes to the bottom of his soul that everything went to hell when the love generation came of age: "Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. They prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that's sex. And the whole abortion culture, it's not about life. It's about sexual freedom. That's what it's about. Homosexuality. It's about sexual freedom."?

In 2008, he gave a speech in which he ventured, "Satan has his sights on the United States of America. Satan is attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that have so deeply rooted in the American tradition."? ?

Santorum traces Satan's hoof prints back to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Just the other day, he told an audience: "They are taking faith and crushing it. Why? Why? When you marginalize faith in America, when you remove the pillar of God-given rights, then what's left is the French Revolution. What's left are no unalienable rights; what's left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you'll do and when you'll do it. What's left in France became the guillotine. Ladies and gentlemen, we're a long way from that, but if we do follow the path of President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, then we are headed down that road."

The whole diatribe is thrilling but utterly ludicrous, not least because it was the revolution that promulgated the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which defined individual and collective rights for all men.

? ?

Why is a guy like this currently running neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination? The usual maps drawn by political experts stipulate that at some point in the prolonged nomination battle, the candidate has to shed the gothic nuttiness and over-the-topness that got him traction in the early primaries and reach out to the independents without whose support no presidential bid can succeed.

There's zero sign that Santorum is of any disposition to do this. So why does he turn out to be the last man standing in the path of the Mormon billionaire Mitt Romney in the battle for the nomination? ? ?

First and foremost, he's not Mitt Romney.

Candidates, now long forgotten, such as Herman Cain or still vaguely remembered like the fading Newt Gingrich, fared well with this simple asset. Blue-collar Americans in the old industrial states don't care for Romney, who began life as a rich kid and then became a lot richer by buying up businesses, putting them on a "sound footing" (firing half the work force), selling them and moving on.

So Santorum can work the blue-collar vote with a few populist rhetorical gestures. He can also work the racist, anti-Obama vote by hinting that the president is driven by a nonChristian, environmentalist, New Age, putatively Satanist agenda. A few days ago, Santorum declared that Obama's actions are motivated by "some phony theology, not a theology based on the Bible. ... The president has reached a new low in this country's history of oppressing religious freedom that we have never seen before. If he doesn't want to call his imposition of his values a theology that's fine." Then he added a day later by way of clarification that he understands Obama is a Christian, but that the president was misinterpreting God's truth.? ?

After the Florida primary, everyone thought Santorum was toast and Romney coasting to the crown. Then Santorum won three fairly insignificant contests in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota. A billionaire, Foster Friess, gave his campaign a huge wad of money, and he was on his way again.

Suddenly, Romney was fighting for his life in Michigan (next Tuesday's primary), where he was born and where his father was governor. Polls show Santorum ahead, both in Michigan and nationally. They also show Santorum to have a slightly better chance than Romney of beating Obama in November, though the president leads both of them by around four to six points.

The very latest poll, taken as Romney has desperately poured money into a fresh negative ad campaign against Santorum, shows the Mormon two points ahead in Michigan — no small achievement since Romney has denounced the bailout initiated by George Bush and ratified by Obama, which also saved GM and Chrysler. Both companies are now doing well and hiring thousands in a stricken state. In a lower key, Santorum also denounces the bailout, which shows just how insane these Republicans are. ?

On Wednesday night, in a debate in Arizona, where he has a decent lead, Romney was pronounced the clear winner, not least because he had Ron Paul on Santorum's other side, thumping him for being a Washington insider and a phony. It would be folly to predict what will happen next Tuesday night. If Santorum prospers, a huge disaster for the Republicans looms in November, far beyond even the Goldwater debacle of 1964. Don't believe the talk about a brokered convention and someone like Jeb Bush or Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey parachuted in by the Republican establishment. ?

These are cheering days for the Obama campaign.

Alexander Cockburn is co-editor with Jeffrey St. Clair of the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch. He is also co-author of the new book "Dime's Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils," available through www.counterpunch.com. To find out more about Alexander Cockburn and read features by other columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

2 Comments | Post Comment
AC is always amusing.. but to re-open the French revolution is a false step... sending "democracy" into Russia, right, Napoleon and the whole pile of pretentious nonsense at the edge of the blade... I'd rather the American Bill of Rights than the so called Rights of Man... any day of the week
Comment: #1
Posted by: Thomas McGonigle
Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:27 AM
Mr McGonigle,

How many countries and lands have we gone into on various excuses over the course of our history? The Bill of Rights you mention has done little to change our nature, either.
Comment: #2
Posted by: michael nola
Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:05 AM
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